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NetCDF (Network Common Data Form) is a set of software libraries and machine-independent data formats that support the creation, access, and sharing of array-oriented scientific data. This includes the NetCDF library as well as the NetCDF Operators (NCO), Climate Data Operators (CDO), NCCMP, and NCVIEW packages.

Using NetCDF at NERSC

NetCDF libraries are provided by HPE, for each of the PrgEnvs. To check the available Cray installations and versions use the following command:

module spider cray-netcdf   (# on Perlmutter)

No compile or link options are required as long as you use the Cray compiler wrappers ftn, cc, and CC. Below is an example:

module load cray-netcdf
ftn my_netcdf_code.f90
cc  my_netcdf_code.c
CC  my_netcdf_code.cpp

Other NetCDF tools at NERSC

NERSC provides several tools which can be useful for analyzing and manipulating NetCDF data.

NetCDF Operators (NCO)

The NetCDF Operators (NCO) are a suite of file operators that facilitate manipulation and analysis of self-describing data stored in the NetCDF or HDF4/5 formats.

NCO is installed within the E4S software package. NCO can be access with the following steps:

module load e4s
spack env activate gcc
spack load nco

There are many NetCDF Operator tools, including:

  • ncap2: netCDF Arithmetic Processor
  • ncatted: netCDF ATTribute EDitor
  • ncbo: netCDF Binary Operator (addition, multiplication...)
  • ncclimo: netCDF CLIMatOlogy Generator
  • nces: netCDF Ensemble Statistics
  • ncecat: netCDF Ensemble conCATenator
  • ncflint: netCDF FiLe INTerpolator
  • ncks: netCDF Kitchen Sink
  • ncpdq: netCDF Permute Dimensions Quickly, Pack Data Quietly
  • ncra: netCDF Record Averager
  • ncrcat: netCDF Record conCATenator
  • ncremap: netCDF REMAPer
  • ncrename: netCDF RENAMEer
  • ncwa: netCDF Weighted Averager

Find usage information via <nco_tool_name> --help.


The NCCMP tool compares two NetCDF files bitwise or with a user-defined tolerance (absolute or relative percentage). To use NCCMP, just load the nccmp module file with the module load nccmp command. This command will automatically load the NetCDF module file.

NCCMP is installed within the E4S software package. NCCMP can be accessed with:

module load e4s
spack env activate gcc
spack load nccmp

NCCMP usage:

nccmp [OPTION...] file1 [file2]

Find more information via nccmp --help.


Climate Data Operators (CDO) is a large set of tools for working on climate data. NetCDF 3/4, GRIB (including SZIP compression), EXTRA, SERVICE, and IEG are supported as I/O-formats. CDO can also be used to analyse any kind of gridded data not related to climate science. CDO has very small memory requirements and can process files larger than physical memory.

CDO on Perlmutter is installed within the E4S software package. Below are the steps to access CDO on Perlmutter:

module load e4s
spack env activate gcc
spack load cdo

CDO usage:

cdo  [Options]  Operator1  [-Operator2  [-OperatorN]]

Find more information via cdo --help.


NCView is a visual browser for NetCDF format files. To use NCView, first set up the necessary X11 environment (NERSC strongly recommends using NoMachine). Or use the -Y option when connecting to NERSC through ssh.

NCView is installed within the E4S software package. NCView can be accessed through the following steps:

module load e4s
spack env activate gcc
spack load ncview

NCView usage:

ncview [options] datafiles

Find more information via ncview --help.


netCDF4-python is an object-oriented python interface to the NetCDF library. It is available via the python module.

netCDF4-python supports various classic netcdf versions

netCDF4-python also supports netcdf3 and netcdf3-classic. Please make sure the format is consistent when you read and write the data.